A Jew Was Murdered at a Pro-Israel Protest. You Wouldn't Know It From the Press Coverage.

NBC News said Paul Kessler 'died after hitting head,' other outlets cite 'dueling protests'

Paul Kessler carries an Israeli flag at a Los Angeles-area protest before being attacked by pro-palestine counter protesters (Christina Buttons/Twitter)
November 7, 2023

After an anti-Israel demonstrator struck and killed Jewish man Paul Kessler at a Los Angeles-area protest, left-wing media outlets whitewashed the incident, with NBC News saying Kessler "die[d] after hitting head" following a "confrontation at dueling rallies."

NBC News published its story shortly after the Ventura County Sheriff's Department released a statement saying Kessler died in a homicide, citing an autopsy report. NBC's headline read, "Man dies after hitting head during Israel and Palestinian rallies in California, officials say," while the outlet's lead paragraph said Kessler was "injured during a confrontation at dueling rallies over Israel and Gaza." NBC later edited its headline to say Kessler was "killed" in an "altercation."

NBC News's original headline
NBC News's updated headline

NBC News was not the only outlet to downplay Kessler's death, which comes as Jews experience a wave of anti-Semitic demonstrations and attacks.

CNN in its original story on the killing omitted the fact that Kessler is Jewish, even as it referenced in the piece a statement from a Jewish group in Los Angeles that referred to Kessler as a "Jewish man who was struck in the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Palestinian protester." CNN also cited in the piece a Gazan death toll that came from "sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave."

"Israeli airstrikes have hit schools, refugee camps, and ambulances," reporter Taylor Romine went on to state.

Time, meanwhile, wrote that Kessler died "after getting into a confrontation during dueling protests over the Israel-Hamas war." The magazine said Kessler died "a day after he was struck" without mentioning who struck the Jewish man. Time also said Kessler "was involved in a 'physical altercation' with one or more counter-protesters," during which he "fell backward and struck his head on the ground."

The New York Times similarly referred to the events that led to Kessler's killing as an "altercation at dueling protests."

NBC, Time, and the New York Times did not respond to requests for comment. CNN declined to comment on the record.

Kessler was photographed at the Sunday protest holding an Israeli flag. One witness said an anti-Israel demonstrator crossed an intersection to approach Kessler before swinging a megaphone at the Jewish man. The megaphone struck Kessler, according to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, causing him to fall and hit his head. Kessler later died from his injuries.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office provided an update on Kessler's killing during a Tuesday press conference. Sheriff Jim Fryoff confirmed that Kessler's attacker attended the protest as an anti-Israel demonstrator. While the lone suspect’s identity has not been revealed, Fryoff said his office obtained a warrant to search the suspect's residence. Opposing witnesses at the scene provided conflicting statements on the incident, Fryoff said. The case is being investigated as a homicide.

One man who attended the protest described the anti-Israel demonstrators as "extremely aggressive." Those demonstrators were accosting police and "trying to incite a reaction or response," the attendee said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles expressed outrage over the killing in a Monday evening statement.

"We remind you that this is the fourth major anti-Semitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone," the federation said. "We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it."